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Kristina's Story
Posted May 7, 2008 - Last updated July 8, 2009

After a year of trying the natural way, we moved onto clomid and then clomid w/ IUI's. Nothing happened. I went to a big specialist and went to injectibles with IUI. As a result I contracted Strep A Toxic Shock Syndrome and nearly died. After 2 surgeries, 8 days of ICU, 7 days in the hospital and 3 months of rehab, I beat the odds, which were that about two-thirds of people who contract this awful disease die within hours.

After a year of dealing with this near death experience I went to a different specialist and with a careful hand, we had a successful and unremarkable fresh IVF. My beautiful twin girls are now 3 yrs old. Mother's Day is every day for me.

I'm now considering a FET cycle, but it is too early to decide yet. While Streptococcal Toxic Shock is a rare and deadly disease, it was the result of dangerous bacteria passing through the body's natural defense barriers and into a fertile, prepared uterus. The ER Dr's initially thought is was Ovarian Hyperstim (OHSS), but I'm grateful that the Trauma Chief rerouted my gurney away from the ob/gyn sono room and straight into the OR. I would have died while getting the sono. Clearly, I don't recomend the "big specialist" as it was at least a half dozen unanswered calls to him that landed me in the ER. I often do recommend the doctor and practice that ultimately helped me with my pregnancy. They are my angels on earth.

Update from Sept 30, 2008

My husband and I decided to do a FET back in July. We met with the doctor who helped us with our twins back in 2005. He perfectly understood our situation of wanting to have another child and our concern about the idea of having another set of twins. He explained that he typically transfers between 2 or 3 embryos for their FET cycles because, in general FET has a lower success rate vs fresh IVF. And even so, he has a relatively tiny FET twin rate, with a decent success rate. But my doctor was sympathetic to our concerns and agreed that we should do a single embryo transfer, so as to almost eliminate any chance of twins. And while his practice has had amazing advances in embryo selection which would help mitigate the recuded probability of success, given the single embryo transfer, we were all prepared to undergo a couple of cycles, hoping for success sooner than later. So we thawed 3 day 3 embryos, cultured them to day 5, selected and transfered one, and refroze the other two.

To my amazement and the credit of awesome doctors, I am now starting my 12th week of my singleton pregnancy. The only little suprise I encountered is how long the progesterone shots and estrace tablets continued after the positive prgenancy test. In fact, tomorrow is my last shot! Hurrah!

My message is that anyone having fertility issues should find a doctor/practice that they are comfortable with, and have faith in. I mean, have a real rapprt with the doctor, who takes the time to undertsand you as a whole patient, not just via the stirrups - and then do some praying, and don't give up hope.

I highly recommend my doctor, who has given my husband and I the opporptunity to be the parents of 3 - which was my girlhood dream of the perfect family and which was almost taken away from me by another doctor who processed me like cattle.

If you're in the NY area, please go see Dr. James Grifo at the NYU center for IVF. It is worth the trip(s)!

Update from Oct 4, 2008

Last week I sent in an update for my story (orignal posted back in May) and here is an update to that update:

Unfortunately on 10/2 I went for my regular ob checkup to find that the heart had stopped beating. I was 11 weeks 3 days, and measurements indicated that growth had ceased at 11 weeks one day. My heart pretty much stopped beating when I heard the news. I got a second opion, but unfortunately it was the same. So yesterday, 10/3, I had a D-N-C and now it is all over. I am devasted.

Both my OB and my fertility Dr. tell me it is simply a coincidence that this happened the day after I stopped the estrace/progesterone therapy, but I'm wondering if anyone else had a similar situation. Both sets of doctors were also suprised that it happened so late and without any symptoms, especially after having been a strong pregnancy up until then.

For now, I have a lot of healing to do, but it helps sharing stories with this community who have have a unique sense of empathy.

Update from Oct 9, 2008 (in response to my letter)

It was so unexpected, because I had no signs - no cramping, no bleeding,
nothing. And by that point of the pregnancy, you tend to breath a
little easier.

Each day gets a little better, but it still is pretty crappy. I don't
know how women can get remotivated to try again after such an
experience. I'd love some of those stories to help me start to wrap my
head around what seems like a closed door right now.

Thanks for the work you do with the website. It is helpful to have such
a connection to a community dealing with similar issues.

Update from Jan 7, 2009

I'm considering another go at FET. Follow up tests show that I have a factor II mutation, which sometimes causes blood clotting issues. My fertility Doc isn't convinced, but my OB and my "new" Hematologist seems to think this was the issue. I'll likely be on lovenox if I try again. It seems that there is some inconsistency as to when in the cycle to start the lovenox, so I was wondering if you had any experience with that.

Update from July 8, 2009

I felt like my story could not end with the October miscarriage, so my husband and I decided to try another FET this past May. We were armed with Lovenox shots from my hematologist to counteract any potential impact of the Factor II mutation and with a bank of 7 frozen embryos we marched forward. The lovenox shots stung pretty bad, but once I got used to icing them it was just fine and I was happy to start them concurent with the estrace since that drug increases your clotting potential.

The Dr postponed my transfer 1 day because we thawed two beautiful embryos and he wanted another day to see if one developed even better than the other, since I was determined to only transfer 1. My first HCG was a BFP at 68. We were thrilled and yet a little nervous at the same time because of the October miscarriage, but we decided to be happy when you can be happy. On the second HCG things started to go bad - it had increased, but not at the rate the Dr's had hoped (it was only doubling every 2.8 days). The 3rd and 4th betas over the next week kept showing the same trend, so we were worried about an ectopic. Finally, after another week, the gestational sac appeared in the uterus, ruling out ectopic, although it was smaller than expected.

My Dr recommened that we wait until day 52 for the pregnancy to present itself with a heartbeat, although two of his partners were already suggesting at day 44 that I stop all the meds. My husband and I decided that we had come this far and HAD to give it another week to be 100% sure either way. The weeks between the second Beta and day 52 were pretty awful. I was pregnant (technically), feeling fatigue and nausea and caring for myself like every other woman in her early pregnancy does, yet I didn't know what I was doing this all for. One of my Dr's partners suggested that I "prepare for the worst, but hope for the best" which in this case is way too contradictory to even make any sense. Unfortunately, there was no heartbeat at day 52 and after discontinuing the drugs, nature took its course 5 days later. After spotting during the day, I had the worst cramps ever for about 3 hours and then everything passed and relief came: physical and mental.

Sure I am disappointed with the outcome, but I am absorbing this in my mind as the baby "never really took", since it really never progressed beyond a typical sac. The Dr says to wait two cycles to try again, which brings me right to my 40th birthday. It is too early to know, but I'm very much considering closing the book on trying again. I've spent my 30's trying to have children and I do have my beautiful twins. Everyone needs to determine how much is enough, and I think I may be ready to stop having my life on hold. We'll see - so for now, I'm signing off as a happy mom of two.

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